Academic journal article Australian Health Review

Quality Allied Health Clinical Supervision Policy in Australia: A Literature Review

Academic journal article Australian Health Review

Quality Allied Health Clinical Supervision Policy in Australia: A Literature Review

Article excerpt

Introduction

This paper presents a review of literature that discusses clinical supervision in health-service practice. The databases of the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), PubMed, PsychINFO and Medline were searched from 1920 to 2010 inclusive. The keywords used were: supervision, clinical supervision, professional supervision, health, and allied health. An internet search using Google and searches of the Joanna Briggs Institute and the Cochrane Library were also conducted with these same search parameters. Members of Speech Pathology Australia, Occupational Therapy Australia and the Australian Physiotherapy Association also sourced relevant documents from these professional associations. These search strategies identified several hundred papers. The list of publications was reduced to 25 by selecting those that were most relevant to allied health and those that most directly discussed the aims and definition of clinical supervision and its effectiveness and supervision policy.

Ensuring the provision of quality supervision for allied health professions requires understanding of and agreement about what constitutes effective supervision and how it might be achieved.1-9 The provision of high quality supervision has been associated with good patient outcomes10 as well as improved staffwellbeing and satisfaction.7 High quality supervision affords support to staffand maintains staffcompetence as well as making available bestpractice service for consumers.6,11 Thus, providing excellent supervision enables health organisations to comply with many of their governance and safety requirements.6,11

Many states of Australia already have policies that target the provision of clinical supervision. In 2009, South Australia produced the Allied Health Clinical Support Framework,12 and Western Australia generated the Foundations to Supervision;13 these documents detailed frameworks for how to provide clinical supervision. Queensland Health also has plans to implement a professional support framework, inclusive of policy and guidelines, professional support guides and training packages, and programs.14 More recently New South Wales Health Clinical Education and Training Institute released a general guide for clinical supervision in allied health titled, The Superguide - a handbook for supervising allied health professionals.15 This handbook's approach to clinical supervision includes broad principles for supervision which are aimed at inexperienced clinicians; however, there is also recognition that ongoing professional development for all practitioners is required for registration requirements and the provision of a high quality health service. Thus, at a state government level, there is a clear commitment to developing clinical supervision in allied health. There is also a possibility that the principles of supervision maybe broadly applicable across states and professions.

A diverse, yet single, entity

The definition of allied health varies from state to state; however, the most effective wayof defining this group might be by detailing which professions are excluded rather than listing all those that may be included. In 2001, Boyce16 identified that allied health professions were those that were bonded through being separated from medicine and nursing; this division is widely recognised.17,18

Groups that are incorporated as allied health may often be determined at the discretion of the employing organisation. New South Wales Health15 lists a very broad range of professions under the banner of allied health. South Australia Health12 described allied health professionals as 'Tertiary qualified health professionals who apply their skills to restore optimal physical, sensory, psychological, cognitive and social function. They are aligned to each other and their clients' (p. 3).12 This is also the definition adopted by the New South Wales Institute of Rural Clinical Services and Teaching. …

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